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HOW WE CAME TO BE

Happy Snappers Adelaide was born out of the idea to allow others that live with mental health challenges to easily be able to have the same experiences of enjoyment, Mindfulness, creativity and self-expression that Alex (the founder of Happy Snappers Adelaide) has experienced for many years now through his own photography. Knowing how healing the photographic journey was for himself, sparked an intense desire to share this wellbeing experience with others.

 

 

In late 2016, Alex through the amazing assistance of his supportive, nurturing and empowering PHaMS (Personal Helpers & Mentors Scheme) worker, created a weekly photography group in conjunction with a mental health NGO. It initially started as a simple thing, with the participants just using their mobile-phones. As time went on however, it became evident that those participants wanted the ability to use digital cameras, to enable them to explore their imagery further, but due to overwhelmingly low socio-economic means for them, that wasn’t possible. Alex had an idea, being the Social Innovator that he is! He reached out to his photography cohorts around the world and asked if they could spare some equipment or financial donations, so as to allow others that couldn’t afford it otherwise, the opportunity to explore digital photography as a regular wellness and social inclusion activity. The results were overwhelming! Within a few weeks, Alex had four cameras and lenses for them! Getting the participants to be able to use them proved to be an insurmountable obstacle however, as Alex was turned away from the mental health NGO, with them refusing him the ability to share his equipment with the participants. So much for the promised “co-design” and “evolving” ability for the group to become something the participants wanted, as the NGO promotes so heavily in their marketing materials!

 

 

Traumatised, dejected and without access to the one activity that was keeping him well, Alex withdrew into himself, isolating himself from the world, punishing himself for even trying to make a difference. After all, if the NGO saw Alex’s socially minded efforts as the actions of a troublemaker, formally requesting he stay away from the one thing that was helping him live well, they must be correct. Right?

 

 

If it had not been for the eternal assistance of his loving partner, and the incredible insights from his Psychotherapist, Alex would have kept believing this. Getting to a point of being able to see beyond the traumatic experience he had been subjected to sparked a new-found determination to take this simple idea of Mindfulness as achieved through the use of a digital camera out to the greater world at large. It was so easy it was a shock that other community centres opened their doors and hearts to this grassroots idea of wellness for all to be able to have access to. Alex arranged for there to be sessions held in a couple of locations, three times a week. A local Community Health organisation came to the party by assisting him with the use of their Public Liability cover to start off with. A community centre took him on as a volunteer and assisted with a venue, and transport, through the use of their minibus and volunteer drivers. Another community centre allowed him the use of their space for gratis!

 

 

Deciding to make a stand against the sort of bullying and denial of access to service that he received, Alex is now very actively involved with advocating for better treatment and respect of individuals that live with mental health challenges in their lives, through a broad range of groups, panels and movements. He is a lived experience representative on panels that influence change for better mental health outcomes. He has just been accepted as a SANE Australia Peer Ambassador, as a part of the 2018 intake, and he has some huge dreams for those living with mental health challenges in the Southern suburbs of Adelaide, where he resides! As a result, he is now only holding two groups per week for this term, until late July of 2018. But, more are being planned for the near future!

 

 

It is Alex’s hope that through his sharing here of the evolution of Happy Snappers as an overcoming of what seemed to be the impossible to achieve, that it may in some way inspire others to follow their dreams to fruition, regardless of what others may present as possible obstacles along the way.

 

 

Dream big, think laterally, reach out for assistance when you need it, keep going even when you’re told “NO!” and reach for the stars!

You can do it!

 

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THE VISION

Dreaming big, Alex had a vision of sharing the ability to explore Mindful Photography as achieved through the use of digital cameras with others. He provides the photographic equipment, his knowledge and assistance through various Community and Mental Health Organisations around Southern Adelaide.

 

 

As time has gone on, the focus on offering this unique and voluntary service solely to those that experience mental health challenges has shifted to offering and delivering this to the broader community as a regular wellbeing activity and immersion in Nature, in conjunction with some gentle social interaction.

 

 

Guidance in the use of a digital camera can allow the user the ability to experience mindful photography, leaving the world, its intrusions and distractions behind as they immerse themselves in observation, exploration and stillness. Through the use of a digital camera, you are given a myriad of opportunities to express yourself visually. Things like being able to select how much of an image is in focus, how the light will play on the scene or object, exactly what is in focus, the ability to zoom in on something, and much more is offered by a digital camera. These are things that a mobile phone can not really offer. Studies have shown that this is an easily accessed state of being through the use of a camera. I have cited some studies and web postings about this on my “Benefits” page.

 

 

Sharing his passion, enjoyment and excitement for photography through simple explorations of many techniques, styles and methods will surprise the participants in what they can achieve even if they have never picked up a camera before in their lives! Nurturing this learning and exploration of photography within the participants is assisted through the use of a broad range of cameras and equipment, with them ranging from full-on DSLR’s to the smaller and much lighter Micro-Four-Thirds format cameras. There’s a camera for every need that could be experienced, from poor eyesight and limited dexterity to chronic body movement, all of these situations can easily be overcome through the use of the right type of camera for the participants. Working from a tripod, for example, with assistance in framing up subjects or landscapes and in the camera operation allows all participants to achieve their photographic goals, regardless of physical limitations.

 

 

Inside activities are arranged easily and quickly if poor weather is too big a challenge to head outside, such as when it’s too hot or too wet.

 

 

With a past history of delivering training through organisations such as the Adelaide WEA and TAFESA in combination with having experienced mental health recovery assisted greatly by photography, Alex is passionate about sharing this wellness activity and creative exploration with others in simple and easy to digest ways.

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OUR VALUES

  1. To provide an easy and safe exploration through digital photography, allowing the experience of Mindfulness.
  2. To act ethically, honestly and with the utmost integrity towards the participant at all times.
  3. To make accessible and create opportunities for Mindful experiences through digital photography.
  4. To provide the opportunity for individuals to learn about and participate in digital photography, even if they do not own any photographic equipment.
  5. To be known and respected as a driving and innovative force for the promotion of beneficial and meaningful experiences through digital photography.
  6. To build and foster a community and culture of like minded people.
  7. To be involved in and create a positive impact within local communities.
  8. To enable personal growth, learning, self improvement, and positive change whenever possible through the above.
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